The MEISTER project was designed to improve the conditions for ‘smart e-mobility’ in three major European cities. Maxim Blankschein, a senior research associate in the Mobility Department, managed the project at IKEM. He spoke with us about why the cities were interesting to research and what he learned from the MEISTER project.
IKEM: There’s a lot of hype around electromobility right now. Was that noticeable during the project?
Maxim Blankschein: It was. During the project period, the number of registered electric vehicles in the MEISTER pilot cities more than tripled! That was inspiring for me, because it showed that our project was in tune with the times.
What was the goal of the MEISTER project?
MEISTER was about finding strategies to expand and use electric mobility in urban and suburban contexts. The Horizon 2020 project was designed to test applications like electric car sharing and to develop an interoperable platform for the people who use these services. MEISTER also investigated how charging infrastructure can be better integrated into urban planning and how electromobility can contribute to the stability of the electricity grid through controlled charging.
In addition to Berlin, Málaga and Stockholm were involved in the project. How were these three cities selected?
The objective was to test different applications and operational concepts in the three pilot cities. Málaga has a historic city centre with a high population density and narrow streets, so it was chosen to test last-mile concepts for urban logistics. The city of Stockholm has a large fleet to provide home care services. The goal there was to show that municipal fleets can be electrified despite high mileage and limited downtime. And in Berlin, the project looked at how sustainable electromobility considerations can be integrated into the development or modernisation of urban districts.
What are the major differences between the three cities in terms of electromobility?
The ramp-up of electric mobility has progressed to different degrees in the three cities. In Stockholm, for example, electric vehicles already account for almost 20% of the total vehicle fleet. In Berlin, and especially in Málaga, the proportion is significantly lower. The number of publicly accessible charging points, the size of electric fleets in commercial transport, and the availability of publicly accessible parking space also differ between the cities. This leads to different requirements for the expansion of the charging infrastructure and to varying degrees of competition for use of public charging points, for example.
What did your results show?
Our impact analysis showed that the use of electromobility significantly reduced relativecarbon emissions in all of the applications we studied. The people who used MEISTER services were able to significantly reduce their mobility costs relative to the use of a private car with a combustion engine. We also found that the acceptance of electric mobility could be increased – for example, with the help of the MEISTER apps. The intelligent parking and charging systems developed in MEISTER provided the participating municipalities with a tool that could successfully prevent electric vehicle charging from limiting the availability of parking spaces.
There are MEISTER Apps? How do they work?
In the project, various apps – for example, for reserving e-vehicles, charging spaces and parking spaces – were developed and tested with different target groups, including tenants, municipal employees and logistics operators. For example, the neighbourhood mobility app can be used to reserve a charging space. These parking spaces are equipped with parking barriers that can be opened at the beginning of the charging process using the app.
What did you learn from the project?
To be successful, the mobility transition and the energy transition in transport will require the intelligent interaction of many different solutions at different levels. MEISTER has shown, for example, that we can make public charging more grid-friendly and at the same time prevent limitations on parking spaces in urban areas if we combine controlled charging with reservable charging spaces. To be successful, the mobility transition and the energy transition in transport will require the intelligent interaction of many different solutions at different levels. User needs will need to be given greater priority before concepts and new technologies can be applied in practice.
How can that be successful?
There is still a need for research in this area, which we want to address in other electromobility projects. One interesting question is: under what circumstances are users willing to plan their charging processes in advance? This allows public charging points to be used more efficiently.